It is hard to ignore the fact that we live in a world connected via posts and pictures on the internet. Whether that’s news, entertainment, or showing your friends the cute new top that arrived from ASOS this morning.
It has become second nature to fling our images on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, always assuming we’re safe in the warm embrace of likes and comments from our followers, friends and family.
Social media has become an extension of our real lives, whether we care to admit it or not, but what happens when these electronic versions of ourselves are exploited without our consent?
On May 10th 2020 hundreds of girls on our island, including myself, found out that our innocent gym selfies, bikini pics and night out snaps had been stolen from our social media accounts to be posted on a paid membership porn site, which promotes rape and abuse of young girls.
The mysterious figure behind this, ‘Chuckaway’ as they like to go by, has been secretly taking images from all of our Instagrams and using them for their own dirty pleasure, for the last SEVEN years!? Yes, I am as confused and disgusted as you are.
The images are sorted into folders, some dedicated to one particular girl, another named ‘people I know in real life’, which I am kindly featured in. Alongside the images, other site users can leave delightful comments such as this one from ‘bollockchops’- “Don’t see the appeal, she’s fugly and really oddly shaped. Had the opportunity and passed. I’m good thanks.” Oh Bollockchops, I bet your mum is so proud.
‘Oh but you posted them online first, you can’t expect some dirty old man not to steal them!’ they all cry, however, when you take the blame away from the girls who posted it, and see that we are sharing them on our own terms, with our own captions, as a reflection of our real life; you will hopefully then begin to see this from our point of view.
If you can go on holiday to Tenerife and waltz around in your bikini then why shouldn’t you be allowed to post it on your Instagram? And I mean, who doesn’t love a cheeky selfie when you’ve been to the gym, because yes, you’re smug and you want everyone to see the hard work you’ve put into your banging bod!
Yet, you don’t think for one second that you in a sweaty sports bra, or dressed up as a mummy on halloween, or even a selfie with a stupid snapchat filter on are going to be used to degrade you to an online audience that you have no clue about. Besides, even if you do choose to post a more ‘risqué’ photo of yourself, this still doesn’t give anyone the right to re-post it on a website where people can discuss where they would like you to put your ‘stupid duck lips’.
You can give us all the ‘be careful online’ speeches you want, but we all know this is going to keep happening time and time again until we approach it with a more modern solution.
Is it really the responsibility of girls and women to mediate their content in fear of this happening again? Or is it our responsibility as a community to educate people on why this ‘it’s the girls fault’ narrative is SO wrong and practically ancient!
This could happen to anyone, your gran, your best mate, Val who works at your local Co-op, you just don’t know what people are into these days.
The Government clearly has more pressing issues to deal with at the moment like, oh I don’t know, saving us all from dying in a pandemic. However, we can all be spending this deathly boring alone time doing something useful like, paint by numbers, jig-saws or maybe coming up with long-term, forward thinking solutions to stop creeps on the internet selling you on a pornsite?
As the internet becomes more of an accessory to our real lives, we need to ensure that we are creating safe spaces through teaching, learning and understanding.
And remember, you can post whatever the hell you want on your Instagram, but don’t be that creep that then shares it on a porn site.